|from the album |
|A&R Recorders (studio A), New York City|
"The Weight" is a song originally by the Canadian-American group
"The Weight" is one of The Band's best known songs, gaining considerable
The inspiration for and influences affecting the composition of "The Weight" came from the music of the
The original members of The Band performed "The Weight" as an
To me ... going there was like going to the source. Because I was at such a vulnerable age then, it made a really big impact on me. Just that I had the honor joining up with this group and then even going to this place, which was close to a religious experience – even being able to put my feet on the ground there, because I was from Canada, right? So it was like, "Woah, this is where this music grows in the ground, and [flows from] the Mississippi river. My goodness." It very much affected my songwriting and, because I knew Levon's musicality so well, I wanted to write songs that I thought he could sing better than anybody in the world.
While I was there, I was just gathering images and names, and ideas and rhythms, and I was storing all of these things ... in my mind somewhere. And when it was time to sit down and write songs, when I reached into the attic to see what I was gonna write about, that's what was there. I just felt a strong passion toward the discovery of going there, and it opened my eyes, and all my senses were overwhelmed by the feeling of that place. When I sat down to write songs, that's all I could think of at the time.
The colorful characters in "The Weight" were based on real people members of The Band knew, as Levon Helm explained in his autobiography,
According to Robertson, "The Weight" was inspired by the movies of Spanish filmmaker
(Buñuel) did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood. People trying to be good in
Viridianaand Nazarín, people trying to do their thing. In "The Weight" it's the same thing. People like Buñuel would make films that had these religious connotations to them but it wasn't necessarily a religious meaning. In Buñuel there were these people trying to be good and it's impossible to be good. In "The Weight" it was this very simple thing. Someone says, "Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say 'hello' to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh? You're going to Nazareth, that's where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favour when you're there." This is what it's all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it's like "Holy shit, what's this turned into? I've only come here to say 'hello' for somebody and I've got myself in this incredible predicament." It was very Buñuelish to me at the time.
This is also related in Robertson's 2016 autobiography, Testimony.
The Band's performance of "The Weight" in the 1968 studio recording included
The official recording credits on the single belong to the above names, in that order, not to The Band per se. In 2005, a remix of the song with Richard Manuel's organ restored was released as a download-only bonus track for the
An edited version of the studio recording was included in the popular American
On August 17, 1969, The Band performed "The Weight" as the tenth song in their set at
Just after their November 25, 1976, "farewell concert," The Band performed a gospel arrangement of "The Weight" with
In 1989, when The Band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, "The Weight" was performed by Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and Robbie Robertson, with Blue Rodeo accompanying.